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Wind power too expensive and unreliable to invest in right now

The romantic view of wind power is a stand of wind turbines atop a ridge gently spinning in a breeze generating clean electricity in place of an emission-producing power plant. Another view is a natural landscape defaced by huge structures whose operation annoys its neighbors, produces power randomly and does not reduce pollutants because fossil-fueled plants continue to operate as backup. The "pop" culture support and promotion of wind power is all based upon conceptual or theoretical constructs which do not reflect the physical, financial or regulatory realities of operating our electric grid system.

Maine has other sources of power that don't require expensive subsidies to work.

CAPE ELIZABETH - The romantic view of wind power is a stand of wind turbines atop a ridge gently spinning in a breeze generating clean electricity in place of an emission-producing power plant.

Another view is a natural landscape defaced by huge structures whose operation annoys its neighbors, produces power randomly and does not reduce pollutants because fossil-fueled plants continue to operate as backup.

The "pop" culture support and promotion of wind power is all based upon conceptual or theoretical constructs which do not reflect the physical, financial or regulatory realities of operating our electric grid system.

Out-of-context claims that a wind power facility will generate the "average equivalent energy to power XXX homes" are akin to a statement that average workers will each earn $2 million in their lifetimes (including 3 years they are unemployed and earning nothing).

There is no empirical data or industry information that demonstrates wind power reduces emissions, lowers our reliance on foreign oil, is easily integrated into the electric grid system or is cost-competitive.

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Maine has other sources of power that don't require expensive subsidies to work.

CAPE ELIZABETH - The romantic view of wind power is a stand of wind turbines atop a ridge gently spinning in a breeze generating clean electricity in place of an emission-producing power plant.

Another view is a natural landscape defaced by huge structures whose operation annoys its neighbors, produces power randomly and does not reduce pollutants because fossil-fueled plants continue to operate as backup.

The "pop" culture support and promotion of wind power is all based upon conceptual or theoretical constructs which do not reflect the physical, financial or regulatory realities of operating our electric grid system.

Out-of-context claims that a wind power facility will generate the "average equivalent energy to power XXX homes" are akin to a statement that average workers will each earn $2 million in their lifetimes (including 3 years they are unemployed and earning nothing).

There is no empirical data or industry information that demonstrates wind power reduces emissions, lowers our reliance on foreign oil, is easily integrated into the electric grid system or is cost-competitive.

Government policies which encourage wind power development do not mandate any scientifically sound measurement provisions to evaluate its actual efficacy and remediation.

In order for wind power to reduce emissions, it must displace the operation of fossil-fueled plants. Most of the electricity generated in the United States is from such plants, which operate at high temperatures. It takes many hours to start up or shut down (or "cycle") these plants.

Current weather forecasting capability does not yet have the precision required to reliably predict the wind in order to cycle these fossil-fueled plants.

The Energy Information Administration has stated that it is unaware of any program which shuts down fossil-fueled plants during wind power production. The EIA says all its CO2 reduction numbers attributable to wind are based upon "forecasts using theoretical models." In the absence of real data, reductions attributable to wind power are a myth.

Oil-fired power plants represented less than 6 percent of U.S. capacity in 2008 and less than 1 percent of output. Most of these plants are "peaking" units that are used to cover abrupt supply/demand imbalances. Given the minuscule amount of oil consumption by the electric industry, wind power will have no impact on oil imports.

The current U.S. transmission grid is capacity-constrained. The unpredictable and intermittent nature of wind generated power results in spikes and flutter which creates problems for the grid.

In every location where material wind capacity has been introduced, new transmission lines have been proposed and/or built to preserve grid dependability.

Examples include Denmark, Germany, Spain, Texas, California and Maine, to name a few. Adding tens of billions of dollars in new transmission capacity is neither easy nor inexpensive integration. The EIA reports the average cost to construct a megawatt of wind power (land and water) is now approximately equal to that of nuclear (the most costly).

As a high-cost and inefficient technology, wind power would be virtually non-existent without the abundance of subsidies and grants funded by taxpayers. In Texas, untimely excess power production has resulted in the insidious use of the Production Tax Credit to pay grid operators to take their excess power undermining the competitiveness and viability of dispatchable sources.

Any and all costs incurred by a grid operator are passed onto consumers in higher electricity rates, and any monies provided by the government must be made up elsewhere in the form of higher taxes. So, either as a ratepayer or a taxpayer, all the costs of wind power will be paid out of everybody's pocket.

Maine has adopted Renewable Portfolio Standards that mandate that grid operators must soon meet minimum levels of alternative energy capacity. There are no requirements that these energy sources meet any performance standards.

So even if an energy source is useless or problematic, it still counts for RPS compliance.

The only way that wind power will become a viable electricity source is if the power it generates can be stored and dispatched when needed.

Steven Chu, the U.S. secretary of energy, has stated that economical, efficient and environmentally friendly commercial sequestration of electricity is still 20 to 30 years away.

Does it make sense to pursue technology that is decades away from becoming a stable and useful energy source when Maine has great potential in realizing benefits from biomass, rivers and tides?

Time, judgment and the depth of our wallets will provide the answer.

William L. Downes of Cape Elizabeth has been involved in large-equipment and energy-project financing for 30 years.


Source: http://pressherald.mainetod...

OCT 19 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/22722-wind-power-too-expensive-and-unreliable-to-invest-in-right-now
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